Painting is more than just a hobby for Barry Morris and that shows when looking at his work.

Art and the great outdoors of the Fraser Valley

It’s obvious when looking at Morris’ work that his move to the Fraser Valley has inspired his art.

Vanessa Broadbent

The Observer

Painting is more than just a hobby for Barry Morris and that shows when looking at his work.

The intricate pieces that feature the Fraser Valley and the Greater Vancouver area capture the essence of The Lower Mainland, but in a way that only a true British Columbian would be able to.

Having grown up in Vancouver, Morris is a graduate of the Vancouver School of Art, now known as Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where he studied painting and graphic art.

Before moving to Chilliwack, Morris spent his time working in advertising, graphic design and fire investigation.

It’s obvious when looking at Morris’ work that the move to the Fraser Valley has inspired his art. While much of his work portrays nature, he also paints horses and farm life.

“I basically love the outdoors,” he said. “Out in Chilliwack, it’s a different environment because you’re out in the farm country. You get the cornfields and the wheat fields so you have more of a spacious look about the work that I’ve done.”

Relocating to Chilliwack also inspired him to paint several of the large, old barns in the area.

“Whenever I paint a barn, within a month it’s gone; it’s sort of like capturing them before they go under,” he said. “It’s kind of mixed emotions about it because when I do it, I know it’s not long for this world.”

While Morris finds that watercolours work well for his work, he noted that they’re not always that easiest to paint with.

“It’s not as forgiving as acrylic,” he explained. “If you don’t like that colour, you can paint over it and you start from dark to light, whereas watercolour you start from light and you work to dark. It’s a reverse and you add the darkness to create the depth and the feeling.”

Most of Morris’ work is done from his studio in his home, but he’s no stranger to painting on the scene.

“The temperature and the amount of water or rain in the air, it affects the paper and how you handle it,” he explained.

“When you’re putting your colours on, it’s a total different experience than on a dry day. Everything adds to the flavour of watercolour and that’s one of the difficulties, but it’s also one of the things that give it a nice character.”

Morris’ work is technical, but without diminishing the beauty of the Fraser Valley.

“As you go through life, you artist picks those [techniques] up and it’s in the back of your mind,” he said. “Same with the elements of design, how you place everything. You get to know what works and what doesn’t work.”

While Morris enjoys painting, he explains that it’s more than just that.

“It’s recording something,” he said. “When you’re painting you’re more aware of what you see and you’re always looking at how the light affects everything. You’re more aware of things that are beautiful.”

Morris, as well as several other local artists, will be displaying their work at the Harrison Art Show. The show is on May 21 and 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Harrison Memorial Hall in Harrison Hot Springs.

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